So you’re sitting in your hair stylist’s chair, revising your WIP. You look at your words, laugh, and almost warn her not to read over your shoulder if she’s easily offended because it contains adult language. Instead, you’re embarrassed by what you read for an entirely different reason.
Let me say that I’ve been nurturing this novel ever since it was a poem, and I’m getting, well, impatient is not the word. Irritated? That’s closer. Let’s go back to second person, shall we?
So you read a paragraph and then another and you realize your story’s tone sways. Your wise cracking feminist becomes a learned scholar and back in two easy paragraphs. Whiplash.
You know what you are trying to do. You know she’s a totally different person on the inside than she’s portraying. You are purposely playing with form. But for one, her persona is way more intriguing. Her intellectual interiority makes her sound emotionally frigid, even though that’s what interests you most about her, her thoughts.
Also: you are trying to achieve a goal one of your writing idols could not. And you think you know now why she couldn’t. Doesn’t mean you can do it, though.
Besides that, this MC is way too self aware, even for first person.
Plus side: MC behaves deliciously horribly. The way you want to act sometimes IRL. She’s selfish, sometimes cruel, and seems shallow to others. But she’s loyal, talented, and a keen observer. She finds it beneficial to be underestimated.
Then there are these other characters who want to take over. They’re uber strong and entertaining, to the point where you struggle to draw the lead men. That’s right. Men. Plural.
You didn’t expect to have the men share the spotlight. You kicked one out. He showed up again. You wrote him out. Back. Then you made the mistake of asking your Writing Mother what she thinks. “Keep him in.” So you do.
Except this guy so far isn’t a strong character. You feel around blindly because you have to tell. There’s no showing this guy. Or maybe you still haven’t cracked the code that reveals who he really is. Maybe you never will.
Ah, and then there’s that other guy. He, too, is overpowered by the MC and friends, though you have more hope that you will be able to capture him. He’s a tune, not a tone, so that might be easier. Might. Still, you hold the poor guy at a distance.
And in the end you wonder if your ambitions exceed your abilities. If SHE couldn’t manage it, what makes you think you can?
But after all, your whole novel argues for accessibility. It seeks to rescue (the metaphorical) Rapunzel and all the ivory tower dwellers. You can have lofty thoughts and still live among mere mortals.
I’m (reclaiming story by first person switch here) seeking to first destroy the ivory tower, then rebuild the Tower of Babel. So we can all communicate, ya’ll. Death to intellectual snobbery! Life to accessible ideas expressed with real-life language.
I’ll still always love reading rich, dense essays, the kind I have to stop and stare up at the sky and mull over. Maybe I should start a translation service for busy people who aren’t theory heads.
With pen in hand, I’ll keep revising. I will either see this novel born or put it out to pasture myself. Cliché intended.
Am I overly ambitious? Let’s just
call me ambitious. Time will tell whether the “overly” fits or not.